LONDON, 18 Jan (APM) - Pharmacists say they are struggling to obtain many common medicines and paying "vastly increased" prices for them, the BBC is reporting on Friday.
It said there has been a big rise in the number of drugs on the "shortage of supply" list for England. There are 80 medicines in such short supply that the Department of Health has agreed to pay a premium for them. This is up from 45 in October.
The BBC said there are concerns that uncertainty over Brexit will make the situation worse.
NHS trialling AI to detect breast cancer
The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) is trialling article intelligence (AI) software to diagnose breast cancer, the Financial Times said on Monday.
The paper said that Kheiron Medical has launched a trial on historic scans at an NHS trust in Leeds. Google’s AI frim DeepMind has also recently begun a trial with the NHS and Dutch firm, ScreenPoint Medical has developed similar technology, the FT said.
Thousands more people with HIV in England to have access to PrEP
Thousands more people at high risk of catching HIV in England are to be given Gilead’s Truvada in a preventative indication known as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), the Daily Mail said at the weekend.
The drug is currently only available for up to 13,000 people signed up to a trial, said the paper. However, NHS England has backed calls for it to double in size, allowing 26,000 people considered to be at risk of HIV to access the drug.
Patient groups involved in NICE assessments receive funding from industry
Most patient groups involved in the appraisal of drugs or medical devices for use in the NHS have received money from the manufacturers that they have not declared, the Guardian reported on Thursday (APMHE 61453
The story was based on research by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and published in the British Medical Journal. It concluded that HTA body NICE does not have stringent enough rules on the disclosure of any and all funds that patient organisations receive from companies.
EMA court battle begins on Canary Wharf lease
The Times on Thursday reported on the start of the court battle between the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and Canary Wharf Group regarding an estimated £500 million bill for the lease of the regulator’s London building, which it is leaving later this year.
The EMA, which is moving to Amsterdam to remain in the EU, argues that its 25-year lease has been “frustrated” by the UK’s imminent departure from the EU, meaning that it should not have to comply with the terms of the lease after Brexit, said the paper.
Canary Wharf has taken the agency to court to enforce it, saying that “however ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ Brexit may be, it is not sufficient to frustrate the lease”.
Ireland intensifies plans to prevent drug shortages in case of ‘no deal’ Brexit
Ireland’s government has intensified its contingency planning for a no-deal Brexit to prevent medicines shortages, The Times said on Wednesday.
Simon Harris, the health minister, appealed to consumers, hospitals and pharmacies not to stockpile any medication in the run-up to 29 March when the UK is due to officially leave the EU.
“This could have the consequence of upsetting the supply chain,” he said. “We have a supply of several weeks for most medicines in this country. So if there is a no-deal Brexit there will not be an immediate effect on people.”
Perrigo halts plans to expand in Ireland after €1.6 billion tax bill
Perrigo may halt plans to expand its business in Ireland after it was hit by a €1.6 billion tax bill in the region, the Times said at the weekend, referencing a report by Bloomberg.
It said that Bloomberg quoted an insider saying that the tax issue has prompted Perrigo to reconsider plans to add staff in Dublin. At present Perrigo employs 180 people in Ireland.
Most of Perrigo’s operations are in the U.S. and it is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, but its headquarters was moved to Dublin in 2013 after it bought Elan.
FDA suspends functions as part of government shut down
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has suspended key functions such as routine facility inspections, food recalls and reviews of new pharmaceuticals, as part of the government shutdown in the U.S., the Guardian said at the weekend.
And although the Department of Health and Human Services, which funds the main Medicare and Medicaid health programmes, is funded through September, important health programmes have lapsed, said the paper.
Opioid maker wanted to ‘bury competition’
The Guardian on Wednesday reported on court documents that claim Richard Sackler, a member of the family of OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma, told people gathered at the prescription opioid painkiller’s launch party that the event would be “followed by a blizzard of prescriptions that will bury the competition”.
The documents are part of a case brought by the Massachusetts attorney general, Maura Healey, who accuses the company and its executives of “deceiving” patients and doctors about the addictive risks of OxyContin and other opioid painkillers.
In response, Purdue accused the attorney general’s office of cherry-picking from millions of emails and documents to create “biased and inaccurate characterisations” of the company and its executives, said the paper.
Pharma companies pay $34 million to patient groups in Australia
Major pharmaceutical companies injected more than $34 million into patient advocacy groups in Australia in four years, said the Guardian on Wednesday.
A study published by University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre showed that 34 pharma companies made 1,482 sponsorships worth $34.5 million to 230 consumer health organisations between January 2013 and December 2016.
The sponsorships were on average worth $23,206.33 and came in the form of direct donations, in-kind support, or product donations.
U.S. Democrat launches investigation into drug pricing
A leading U.S. Democrat has launched an investigation into pharmaceutical industry pricing, the Daily Mail said on Monday.
Representative Elijah Cummings, who chairs the House Oversight Committee, sent letters to 12 companies seeking information on price increases, investment in research and development, and corporate strategies to preserve market share and pricing power, his office said in a statement.
Cummings letter suggests that the companies' pricing schemes may be unfairly driving up costs to the Medicare federal subsidy programme that covers medications for the elderly and disabled, said the paper.
Lack of diversity in clinical trials
The FT on Friday carries a feature on the lack of diversity, saying that participants are disproportionately white.
It says the “diversity gap” weakens efficacy and could undermine outcomes for minority groups with health conditions.
For example, it says that people of African descent respond less well to certain hypertension drugs while white and black patients metabolise some antidepressants and antipsychotic less well than Asians.
However, these differences are not generally taken into account in trials. The proportion of white participants in trials to support FDA drug filing was 86% in 2014.
The paper spoke to Steve Arlington, president of the Pistoia Alliance, a life-science innovation industry group, who said that white people dominate trials for several factors, including commercial reasons.
“Because drug companies have focused on wealthy, white, Caucasian European markets, where individuals can pay the money and where they can draw clinical trial subjects from, research has been too dominated by white populations,” he said.